“Great talent, great imagination, and real been-there done-that authenticity make this one of the year’s best thriller debuts.”
“Not since Fleming charged Bond with the safety of the world has the international secret agent mystique been so anchored with an insider’s reality.”
—Noah Boyd, New York Times bestselling author of Agent X and The Bricklayer
“A real spy proves he is a real writer—and a truly deft and inventive one. Spycatcher is a stunning debut.”
—Ted Bell, New York Times bestselling author of Warlord
A real life former field officer, Matthew Dunn makes an extraordinary debut with Spycatcher, a masterwork of international espionage fiction that crackles with electrifying authenticity. Fans of Daniel Silva, Robert Ludlum, Brad Thor, and Vince Flynn will be on the edge of their seats as intelligence agent Will Cochrane—working on a joint covert mission for the CIA and MI6—sets out to capture a brilliant and ruthless Iranian spy. Timely and gripping, Spycatcher rockets the reader into a shadowy world of terrorism and counter-terrorism, and holds them in an iron grip until the last pulse-pounding page is turned.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Matthew Dunn spent years as an MI6 field operative working on some of the West’s most clandestine missions. He recruited and ran agents, planned and participated in special operations, and operated deep undercover throughout the world. In Spycatcher he draws on this fascinating experience to breathe urgent, dynamic new life into the contemporary spy novel.
Featuring deft and daring superspy Will Cochrane, Dunn paints a nerve-jangling, bracingly authentic picture of today’s secret world. It is a place where trust is precious and betrayal is cheap—and where violent death is the reward for being outplayed by your enemy.
Will Cochrane, the CIA’s and MI6’s most prized asset and deadliest weapon, has known little outside this world since childhood. And he’s never been outplayed. So far…
Will’s controllers task him with finding and neutralizing one of today’s most wanted terrorist masterminds, a man believed to be an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general. Intending to use someone from the man’s past to flush him out of the shadows, Will believes he has the perfect plan, but he soon discovers, in a frantic chase from the capitals of Europe to New York City, that his adversary has more surprises in store and is much more treacherous than anyone he has ever faced—and survived—up to now.
“How close do you think any of us can get to knowing what it's really like to live the life of a spy—to walk and talk like one, to see the world the way he or she must, to run assets, to hunt and track a target, to outthink brilliant opponents? Well, one way would be to meet a real spy. But then, of course, they might be a bit hard to spot (that's in the job description, after all). Or better, read an excellent new novel by a former spy, one who has the gifts of a born storyteller. Spycatcher is such a novel. And Matthew Dunn is that very talented new author. I know of no other spy thriller that so successfully blends the fascinating nuances of the business of espionage and intelligence work with full-throttle suspense storytelling.” --Jeffery Deaver
Jeffrey Deaver: Matthew, why did you choose to write under your own name and not a pseudonym? Isn’t that what most people who’ve written about espionage work have done? Are there risks to using your own name?
Matthew Dunn: When I was a spy I always operated under completely different identities. At the beginning of every mission, I felt like an actor taking to the stage on the first night. Though an actor can take off his or her costume at the end of the night, often I could not do so for months and in some cases years. I decided to write under my own name for three reasons: First, I wanted to do something that had my real name attached to my work. Second, I felt my readers deserved to know who I really am. And third, I felt it would be cowardly to hide behind another name since I am no longer a spy. Yes, there are severe and immediate risks, and I’m conscious of them every day. But I’ve chosen those risks. If a team comes for me, I’ll deal with it.
JD: What kind of man or woman makes an ideal field officer—one who runs agents?
MD: There are many quantifiable traits – intellect, skills in lateral thinking, a gregarious personality (deployed in exact moments), an unwavering belief that anything is possible, the ability to manipulate, ruthlessness, compassion, leadership, the ability to make rifle-shot decisions, and tremendous courage. But ultimately MI6, the CIA, the French DGSE, the Russian SVR (the successor to the KGB) and Mossad – that is, the truly “global” intelligence services – recruit a particular breed of animal to work as an agent, and one knows that animal when one sees her or him. That person is simply different from everyone else. If you are a good field officer, your agent (i.e. the foreign national you’ve recruited to spy on his country) will trust you with his life. He won’t risk execution by working for just MI6 or whatever institution you represent – he’ll do it for you.
JD: How autonomous does a field officer have to be? And is operating solo an advantage in the world of intelligence and espionage?
MD: Intelligence officers are lone wolves. It’s vital that they don’t make themselves visible. One can’t get the best intelligence by using a sledgehammer approach. To that extent, there are no “superior forces or big guns” when you’re in the field. Your country’s army, navy, and air force are the inferior forces that are liable to get it wrong. And that means you can’t trust or use them. But if you mess up and get caught, you will die.
JD: Can you describe the operation for which you were awarded an unusual, special commendation by the British government?
MD: I can, but I won’t.
JD: Good call. If you had answered, maybe I'd have found one of those red laser dots on my forehead… If there's one vital lesson to be learned in foreign intelligence training, what is it?
MD: Mind-set is key. An MI6 officer believes that he or she can achieve anything and very often that self-belief is justified. MI6 is far and away the best intelligence organization at encouraging that outlook. As a result, and based on what it has achieved, it is without doubt the best intelligence organization in the world.
JD: What do you mean when you say, “When a gun comes out on a deep-cover mission, it’s the worst thing that can happen?” Talk a bit about the physical aspects of espionage.
MD: Officers are typically trained to use guns in tight, urban situations, to deploy highly aggressive and effective unarmed military combat techniques, and to do whatever is necessary to get out of a situation. But the primary role of a spy is to collect intelligence. When guns are deployed – certain direct actions excluded – something has gone wrong. Even when things have gone wrong, many good spies would prefer to die and maintain the integrity of the operation than to pull a weapon. No good intelligence comes out of a fight or torture; these actions only result in the pleadings of a man who wants to live. Morality aside, the CIA’s use of water boarding made men say anything to keep from drowning. Saying anything, or even providing “good information,” is a million miles away from providing intelligence, (i.e. something that is most certainly not public knowledge). For that reason and to their peril, the British learned that torture was ineffective in the Boer War. Guns and torture are anathema to intelligence-gathering activities, but they are also bedfellows.
JD: Is it hard for retiring foreign-service officers to adapt to private life?
MD: Most people who leave are achievers. They get jobs in the top ranks of industry, commerce, government, or maybe some place similar in the arts. But all of us struggle. We are trained to believe that we are better than everyone else when the reality is that we are not. We’ve simply seen different, odd things and had to do a job that requires inordinate self-belief. It’s taken me ten years to adjust to not being a spy. I’m still adjusting.
JD: What about the service do you miss?
MD: I miss the friendships I had with my foreign agents. They would do the most unbelievably brave things for me, but would always be aware of the danger they were in and their own mortality. I respected them and loved them more than MI6 or anyone else, and that is how it is supposed to be. My agents were my family. We laughed together in one-on-one meetings in swanky hotels and war-zone ditches. We cried together. I held their hands and told them to be brave. I watched the fear and defiance in their eyes as they went back to their tasks. But I was never Matthew Dunn. I was someone else even if the emotion was real. I miss my agents, but they don’t miss me because they never knew who I was. I regret that more than anything.From the Back Cover:
Matthew Dunn spent years as an MI6 field operative working on some of the West’s most clandestine missions. In Spycatcher he draws on this fascinating experience to breathe urgent, dynamic new life into the contemporary spy novel.
Will Cochrane, the CIA’s and MI6’s most prized asset and deadliest weapon, has known little outside this world. And he’s never been outplayed. So far . . .
Will’s controllers task him with finding and neutralizing one of today’s most wanted terrorist masterminds, a man believed to be an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general. Will believes he has the perfect plan, but soon discovers, in a frantic chase from Europe to New York, that his adversary is much more treacherous than anyone he has ever faced—and survived—up to now.
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